Israel Rethinking Ban on Flotilla Journos

UPDATE 5:25 pm: No sanctions for the journos, according to this statement from the Prime Minister’s office.

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This just in from Reuters. Israel’s rethinking it’s ban on journalists sailing with the Gaza flotilla:

“(Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) heard about it on the news and asked to re-examine this issue because it’s problematic,” Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said, referring to Sunday’s warning from Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO).

“I know the prime minister was as surprised as I was to hear this,” he said, without disclosing who had made the decision to deliver the threat.

“There’s no way to stop the media in this day and age if they (are on board) anyway. It’s better not to clash with them.”

HonestReporting’s Simon Plosker recently argued on YNet News that journalists traveling aboard the Free Gaza were crossing a line

This is a clear example of the symbiotic relationship between the media and anti-Israel agitators such as those behind the flotilla. After all, it wasn’t the violent actions of the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara that caused Israel so much damage – it was the diplomatic and public relations fallout from an incident that occupied the international press for days after the event.

My understanding of the Governement Press Office’s letter to reporters was that it was a warning of consequences, not a punitive threat: According to Israeli law, foreigners (not just journalists) who enter Gaza illegally can be barred from entering Israel for 10 years. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The Foreign Ministry has made clear that the country’s policy toward the flotilla is that if the vessels are towed into Ashdod, their passengers – regardless of their profession – will be seen as individuals trying to illegally enter Israel.

As such, the regulations that govern illegal entry are that they be given three days to appeal the courts to stay in Israel – and if they waive that right, they will be deported to their country of origin and be subject to a 10- year travel ban.

Have your say at HonestReporting’s question of the week: Should Israel sanction reporters participating in the Gaza flotilla?

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